Welcome “The Biz” To Oklahoma City

Richard-Bachman-OKC-Wallpaper

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Richard Bachman admits his nickname, “The Biz,” is a little silly.

He and some teammates on the Texas Stars went to see the band Southside Union in Austin a year ago, and decided for fun that each of the guys would be a member of the band. Bachman ended up being Russell Bisbey, the lead singer.

“Guys just kept calling me ‘The Biz,’ and it stuck,” said Bachman, who plays drums and is trying to learn guitar. “It was ‘Hey, Bachs, give them The Business’ or ‘They’re going to get the Biz tonight.’ It was just something that caught on.”

Quote via Dallas News

Squeezing In A Wolverine & A Wolf, On Lee Moffie & Brad Hunt

Lee Moffie
Ignore the nasty Wolverine in the photo. GO BUCKS!

Two additional defensive signings for the Oilers occurred Saturday that raised eyebrows and forced me to utter words that every hockey blogger never wants to utter, “Who is this guy I have to write about?”. Admittedly, I knew and still don’t know much about either player, and quite frankly, these are fringe signings that seemingly have very little immediate impact on the NHL Oilers. Thus they fall gracefully to the Barons where we get to nurture our unfamiliar relationship.

Lee Moffie, a University of Michigan graduate, is a left shooting defender selected by the San Jose Sharks in the late late rounds of the 2010 draft. He stayed put in the NCAA for two seasons before now landing with the Oilers. The deal was a trade that sent Kyle Bigos to San Jose for Moffie. The trade, although a prospect deal, shed a bit of a dim flashlight into the further direction the Oilers are willing to take. Bigos was a tough, nasty, mountain of man type defender with portions of his game being, how they say, hammy. Moffie, who himself might be hammy, is a different kind of player. A mobile puck defender, still with great size, but a lean towards offensive prowess. That’s interesting enough for me. Likewise, he played for a really good collegiate program. That never hurts. He’ll likely add another piece to the Barons defensive core while the Oilers watch him closely.

Sunday, it was made official, that the Edmonton Oilers had signed Chicago Wolves defender, Brad Hunt, to a two year entry level deal. Coached by Craig MacTavish in 2011-12 season after leaving Bemidji State, this is another left handed defender that creates a logjam of young d-men on the farm. His numbers are good at the collegiate level and his most recent season with Chicago continued that trend in the professional ranks. It’s clear that he’s an assist getter rather than a goal scorer, when it comes to quality offensive defenders. I like that, and I think he’s a good fit within the confines of the two years in Oklahoma City that he’ll likely play.

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Richard Bachman, Now An Oiler? Bizarre.

Henrik Zetterberg Richard Bachman
It stinks getting Zetterberg’d. Photo via NHL.com

It’s been a bizarre weekend full of bizarre signings for professional hockey players in North America. Just outside the confines of the NHL lies the AHL, where the signings have been equally bizarre. A trade involving Philip Larsen brought a Star to Oil country, then the announcement of two Marlies being brought into the fold again continued the weirdness. Then came the signing of yet another Star, goaltender Richard Bachman.

Bachman, a fourth round draft pick of the Dallas Stars in 2006, is somewhat of a too-little-too-late kind of player. Prior to turning pro he spent a season in the USHL, two more at Colorado College, and then immediately to the Idaho Steelhounds for some “seasoning”. He played his first full season as a Texas Star in 2010-11 where he’d see his number of NHL games increase from that point forward. Most recently he backed up Dallas goaltender, Kari Lehtonen, but did very little to improve his team in that role.

The Stars chose not to sign him after back-to-back seasons of one year contracts (that eventually cost the Stars more cash in 2012-13). Nonetheless, with Jack Campbell becoming the Stars prospect goaltender, the Stars had seen enough. Signing Dan Ellis as the backup in the upcoming season meant Bachman was turned loose (with Nilstorp as another option).

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Erick Lizon Makes Three, Signs AHL Contract With OKC

The balance of skill and toughness has long been a delicate high wire act for minor league hockey teams in the AHL (and hockey teams in general).

It’s not that it’s hard to find offensive skill or heavy fisted fighters, but rather striking a balance of the two in the same moment. Oklahoma City, no stranger to this feat has become an Oilers farm team very much focused on quality prospect play. Yet, the Barons have added a piece that offsets the high skill in the top with some nastiness at the bottom.

Former Blazer, semi-current CHLer, Erick Lizon has come to terms with the Oklahoma City Barons for the upcoming season. He becomes the third player to sign an AHL deal in OKC (C.J. Stretch, Joey Leach prior).

Official Release:

The Oklahoma City Barons agreed to terms with forward Erick Lizon on an American Hockey League contract, General Manager Bill Scott announced today.

Lizon, a 6-4, 234-pounder from Kitchner, Ontario played in 17 games with the Baron last season and served 30 penalty minutes. He has played the majority of his seven seasons as a pro in the ECHL and Central Hockey League. In 362 games over those seven seasons, he has scored 52 points (21- 31-52) and served 1,019 minutes in penalties.

He played the last two seasons with the Wichita Thunder of the CHL. In 95 games with the Thunder, he recorded 11 points (5-6-11) while serving 234 penalty minutes. The 27-year old has played previously in the American Hockey League during the 2010-11 season with the Worcester Sharks. He appeared in eight games and served 24 penalty minutes.

Prior to turning pro, Lizon played parts of two seasons with the Victoriaville Tigres of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL). He played in 103 games, scoring 34 points (14-20-34) and served 230 penalty minutes.

Erick was brought in to give some oomph to a buttery soft Barons team in 2012-13. His role was clear. His time was likely short. After seventeen games as a Barons, Lizon found favor with the coaching staff, and perhaps a bit in the locker room with fellow teammates. He trended his game towards a more useful version of a grit player – hard work in front of the net, muscle bound along the boards, instigating diversions – he became far removed from the CHL player we knew him to be. But don’t think for a moment that Lizon doesn’t intend on mixing it up. Old dog, new tricks and such.

I like Lizon about as much as I liked former Baron Andrew Lord. He has the personality and tenacity that Oklahoma City fans enjoyed during the 90’s during Central League play. Don’t expect him to give you a ton of minutes, goals, assists, points or even scoring chances. Accept him for what he is, and hope he is used properly.

Lizon career stats:

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Pair Of Marlies, Now Oilers (Most Likely Barons)

It’s not uncommon for newly minted head coaches to dig deep in their bag of magic tricks, reveal a good trick or two, and wheel out a performance among the new roster he now calls his team. Dallas Eakins, known as a good prospect handler with Toronto, seemed to have some input on a July 5th transaction that brought two Marlies into the Oilers fold.

Will Acton and Ryan Hamilton, two prospects in the Toronto pipeline, were key pieces to Eakins well-managed and very successful Marlies teams. They’ll now call the Oilers their team, and even more likely, spend large amounts of time in Oklahoma City as Barons.

Acton is a strategically placed center who plays a game most similar to Tanner House or Chris VandeVelde, two players no longer signed to OKC. He’s a 25 year old, four year collegiate guy with a hockey ceiling probably no greater than AHL play. This isn’t a knock on Acton because he gives quality minutes as a closer and penalty killer. Things that minor and major league teams always need. Eakins was favorable towards Will, enjoyed his mentality towards his role, and occasionally leaned on him for energy in late game situations. With no NHL experience, Acton likely falls the way of the Baron. For OKC that’s great news.

Ryan Hamilton is a bit more seasoned than Acton, and vastly different in his approach to playing hockey. Hamilton is a winger with a scoring knack. Having made the AHL All-Star team two years in a row, Hamilton began his career in the Minnesota Wild org under the tutelage of the Houston Aeros. He scores. He is a chance taker. He’s a thick 6’2″ and near 220, which makes him hard to jostle. In early 2009, in a trade with Robbie Earl, Hamilton seemed to find a second life with Toronto, and his numbers increased as time passed. He’s earned twelve games with the big club in Toronto, and although those minutes were somewhat protected, he’s been solid. He’s not an NHL gamer, but he’s got potential. OKC seems a likely destination, but don’t rule out a handful of games with the Oilers.

Back to my original thought. Eakins, having coached both of these fellows in recent seasons, is taking a large gamble by inserting himself into the GM of the Oilers decisions. A gamble I like because it brings the day to day coaching into the managerial world where, in an ideal setting, these two worlds can/should coexist. The problem is this; will Dallas be able to swallow a hearty “NO” from Craig MacTavish when these two players remain in the OKC pipe? I believe he will, but he’s also hanging himself out to dry just a bit by suggesting these players while the Oilers still lack so much.

I like both signings because I’m a selfish fan. Pretty great minor leaguers, and I like pretty great minor leaguers. So let’s all assume they’ll be Barons come October, thus being selfish together.

Yann Danis Signs With The Flyers, Prospect Tenders Remain

Photo courtesy of Rob Ferguson. All rights reserved.
Photo courtesy of Rob Ferguson. All rights reserved.

It was inevitable that after two really solid AHL seasons from Yann Danis, where he played number three for the Oilers, that he would move on. Today it was announced that he has signed with the Philadelphia Flyers.

Philly has been collecting goaltenders, and this one in particular stands out the most. Buckeye Cal Heeter and Niagra University alum Carsen Chubak, both expected to fight for the leading tender for the Adirondack Phantoms, will now have a bit more competition. Danis has been signed to a one-year, two-way deal. All three goaltenders will have been signed within a five month period, and there’s little doubt in my mind that Danis wins out for the Phantoms top spot.

This leaves the Oklahoma City Barons and Edmonton Oilers with a decision to make on the farm. The addition of Jason LaBarbera as a backup to Devan Dubnyk allows for the Olivier Roy, Frans Tuohimaa, Tyler Bunz trifecta to become the goaltending prospects that duke it out in OKC with the likely front runners being Olivier and Frans. But that’s so much youth, and this also creates a number three in Roy that would be called upon to run up NHL minutes when the Oilers duo catches the injury ailments. Do you keep the young trio or throw a vet in the mix to protect them? With Yann out, and no other goaltender signed at the time this post will be published, I’m thinking MacTavish is ready to embrace prospect – even goaltenders.

Good luck to Yann and his family! You’ll be missed.

TTF’s Twitter “Must Follows” for the Busy Off-Season

Lady Hockey Players
Tend the Farm’s Twitter Team

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Here at Tend the Farm we love Twitter and we think that you should too. It makes our entire hockey experience much more immediate — much more fun! And, yes, at times, even zany, crazy and silly. Join us! Meet some of the OKC Barons who are on Twitter. Some folks take to Twitter with the ease of a professional, and others … well, others appear seldom, like a nocturnal opossum, hiding, lurking, only coming out in the dark of night.

We begin our first Twitter “Must Follows” Installment with a finely tuned selection of OKC Barons & Oilers team accounts, coaching staff, play-by-play, media and bloggers. The list is broken down into large subsections but listed randomly — in no particular order. If you feel you have been left off this list unjustly, submit your requests in triplicate and we will begin a thorough screening immediately! The next installment will be devoted to Player accounts, and anyone else we’ve sadly and horrifically failed to include on this list.

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Oilers Qualify Six (No Cornet, Plante or Teubert)

AHL Hockey: Apr 02 Barons vs Bulldogs
Antti Gets A QO? Photo by Steven Christy.

Simply put, it’s that time of year. Where contracts are signed, offers are extended, and ties are cut. Yesterday the Edmonton Oilers announced the six qualifying offers that were extended to RFA players. That list didn’t include defenders Alex Plante and Colten Teubert, nor coming-on-strong-late-in-contract winger, Philippe Cornet.

Here’s the full list via the Oilers website:

General Manager Craig MacTavish announced today the Edmonton Oilers have issued qualifying offers to the following players:

Taylor Fedun, Teemu Hartikainen, Niko Hovinen, Antti Tyrvainen, Sam Gagner, Magnus Paajarvi

I’d say that they extended QO’s to the right folks, especially Taylor Fedun and Magnus Paajarvi, two guys with extensive OKC Barons playing time. Keep in mind, Hartikainen, Hovinen, and Tyrvainen were extended qualifying offers, but none will play in North America in the upcoming season as they’ve signed to play elsewhere. This does, however, keep their rights within the Oilers organization, and I suppose that is good for those folks. Tyrvainen is the interesting wrinkle on this list, and I suppose you could have left him off, but that feels like a non-issue at this point.

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The Oilers Draft Review (Houck & Platzer, New NBC Comedy?)

The Oilers did some interesting things at this year’s draft. I say that because I really have no other explanation for what was done other than the team wanted to collect pics like Garbage Pail Kids, and likely not share with anyone else via a bundled-prospect-plus-more giant deal. Craig MacTavish, now steering the Oilers ship, had made subtle, but grand remarks about taking calculated risks to get better, and not just better, but more skilled. The draft of 2013 will likely not be a shiny example of getting better, and certainly not becoming more skilled. While other teams made some important moves, it was a pretty lukewarm day for Edmonton as they added two additional player snatches to a draft card that was already holding eight. The two additional didn’t make the team better, and they certainly raised some eyebrows.

Here is the final draft board for the Oilers. Some thoughts, discouraging comments, and OKC bias to follow:

Oilers-Draft-Board

What do you think of this list? Comments are widely welcomed and never ridiculed (except my own, you can ridicule those)